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MEMPHIS STATE UNIVERSITY
UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS LIBRARIES
3 2109 00699 6624
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2012 with funding from
LYRASIS Members and Sloan Foundation
ORAL HISTORY OF THE TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY
INTERVIEWS WITH A. J. GRAY
DECEMBER 20, 1974
BY CHARLES W. CRAWFORD
TRANSCRIBER - BETTY WILLIAMS
ORAL HISTORY RESEARCH OFFICE
MEMPHIS STATE UNIVERSITY
©AY AELRED J.
MEMPHIS STATE UNIVERSITY
ORAL HISTORY RESEARCH OFFICE
I hereby release all right, title, or interest in and to all
of my tape-recorded memoirs to the Mississippi Valley Archives of
the John Millard Brister Library of Memphis State University and
declare that they may be used without any restriction whatsoever
and may be copyrighted and published by the said Archives, which
also may assign said copyright and publication rights to serious
LACE l^/^f^i^ ; TjsVHj MLL
ate XimsiouMtc *zo ; 177 y-
(For the Mississippi Vall$ Ar chives
of the John VJillard Brister Library
of I.femphis State University)
(OHRC Form B)
THIS IS THE ORAL HISTORY RESEARCH OFFICE OF MEMPHIS STATE UNIVERSITY.
THIS PROJECT IS THE "ORAL HISOTRY OF THE TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY."
THE DATE IS DECEMBER 20, 1974. THE PLACE IS KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE.
THE INTERVIEW IS WITH MR. A. J. GRAY FORMERLY WITH THE TVA. THE INTER-
VIEW IS BY DR. CHARLES W. CRAWFORD, THE DIRECTOR OF THE ORAL HISTORY
RESEARCH OFFICE OF MEMPHIS STATE UNIVERSITY. TRANSCRIBED BY BETTY
WILLIAMS. INTERVIEW #1.
DR. CRAWFORD: Mr. Gray I suggest we start by getting some back-
ground about you — a brief biography would suffice,
MR. GRAY: Well, I was born in Warren, Pennsylvania, and I
went to public schools there and when it came time
to go to college I spent my first year at Notre Dame and then the last
three years were spent at the University of Michigan where I got my A.
B. Degree in geography. This was kind of a bad time to graduate from
college, as you know, and after looking for a job and not finding one I
decided to go on for my master's degree. So I got a scholarship from
Syracuse University and I had just about completed my work on my degree
there. I had completed all the course work, but I had not completed
the thesis requirement, and I got a call from some of my old Michigan
collegues who were here at TVA, Glendinning and Otto Guthe who had been
at Michigan when I was there and who were getting their Ph.D.'s So
I remember in the dead of winter I left Syracuse in a 1923 Buick and
drove down here to Knoxville . Really, it was the first time I had been
much out of the Northern part of the United States. This was my first
experience in the South. I should say that when I came down here I
really expected to come down for one year and then to go on for my Ph. D.
But time has a way of changing the way people react to circumstances.
I didn't know really what I was getting into and the really exciting
times we had in those days. So really I spent nearly all of my pro-
fessional career, I would have to say, with TVA. There were a few ex-
ceptions. I was loaned for several years to the Alabama State Planning
Board — three years, as a matter of fact — by TVA to help them set up a
local planning assistance program. I also took a leave of absence from
TVA and worked on the Hurricane Rehabilitation Program in New York State.
I did a similar job in North Carolina. So I guess you would have to say,
that all of my professional career was spent with TVA.
DR. CRAWFORD: What was the year you were born, Mr. Gray?
MR. GRAY: I was born April 20, 1909 .
DR. CRAWFORD: What year did you graduate at Michigan?
MR. GRAY: Nineteen hundred and thirty-three. I should tell
you that I did finally go back to Syracuse and
finish my thesis while I was working here with TVA and then I went back
for my orals and finally got the degree in 1937. So there was a time
span there, but I certainly learned my lesson, because I am teaching a
little bit now at the University and always my advice to students is
stay with the university — don't go away without that thesis. Because
you are going to have a hard time finishing it.
DR. CRAWFORD: That's the advice I give students too.
Can you tell me how you spell the names of your
friends' last names, Glendinning and Guthe?
MR. GRAY: Glendinning, and I can't remember what his first
name was — it has been so long ago. But his last
name was spelled, G-L-E-D-I-N-N-I-N-G. Otto's name of course, O-T-T-0
and the last name, G-U-T-H-E.
DR. CRAWFORD: What conditions did you find when you first arrived
in Knoxville in 1935?
MR. GRAY: Well, I was a young man just out of school or about
to get out of school and I cane down here and I
never had been in this area before. I reported in for work on February
18, 1935, and I was in the what was then called the Division of Land
Planning and Housing. More specif ically, I was in the Division of Land
Planning, that was headed by G.Donald Hudson. As a matter of fact, he
is still living. He left TVA and went to Northwestern and then went
to the University of Washington in Seattle and he is still living there.
I talked to him not so long ago, as a matter of fact. He headed up
the Land Planning Section.
DR. CRAWFORD: Do you know how long Mr. Hudson was with TVA?
MR. GRAY: Yes, Don was with TVA from a little before I came,
as a matter of fact. He probably came in 1934.
I would say that he was here until about 1938 or '39. Sometime in there
is when he left. To get back to the story, I was assigned to the Land
Planning Housing Division and so when I reported, they told me to report
to Dandridge because I was being assigned to a field party that would
work in Pickwick. Well, I looked on all the maps and I couldn't find
Pickwick any place. So I took this old car and left it out in Dandridge
and we took off in the TVA car heading west and I soon found out that
Pickwick was on the lower Tennessee near Savannah, Tennessee. Our job
there, which was an interesting job, was one of making a survey of land
uses along the reservoir and interviewing the people who were within
the flood zone and making recommendations for the taking line along the
reservoir. We spent all of that year, as a matter of fact, working
on that particular project. This was one of the activities that we
were very closely related to — this whole survey of reservoir shore lines
and the development of some kinds of recommendations for land acquisition.
After that assignment I was pulled back into Knoxville because
something that most people in TVA don't even remember anymore was that
the Land Planning Division was starting what was then called the Rural
Land Classification Survey. You, probably, if you have talked to some .
of the early people, will have some records of that. Certainly Harold
Miller and I were the two of us that were closely associated with this
and were with the project as long as it lasted. Essentially what this
was was a survey method by automobile — a kind of reconnaissance survey —
and it looked at the land to find out how it was used and what the char-
acteristics of the land itself were.
Now the reason for this broad survey was that you have to remember
that in 1935 you didn't have the data that we now have about the Valley.
This was to be a rapid survey in order to find some kind of basis for
program planning. The data that came out of these surveys were put
together in various combinations to recommend such things as what areas
ought to be served and common service areas for the power program and
where were the poor agricultural lands were and where should the fer-
tilizer program be concentrated. These sorts of recommendations came
out of that work.
The RLCS had a really interesting history because it was one of the
first attempts made in this country for a broad scale reconnaissance
survey of land use. I have to tell you about the controversy in back
of it because it was through this that the program was stopped.
As a part of that survey, you must remember that we were all geo-
graphers not agronomists. One part of that survey called for a general
estimate of what was termed in the legend, productivity. Well, some
of the agricultural people in TVA, as did some of the soils people in
the Department of Agriculture, objected to geographers making this kind
of an interpretation. So utilizing the fact that we were not supposed .
to be knowledgeable in this area, although I'm not so sure for the gen-
eral type of appraisal we were making, this wasn't perfectly adequate.
Finally, about the time that Mr. Hudson left, 1938 or 1939, the survey
was stopped and as a matter of fact shortly after that, Mr. Sturdivant,
who was the head of the Information Office here, made a ruling that in-
formation could no longer be released to the outside. But you know, the
geographers always were intrigued by that survey method and fortunately
at least some of us interested in it kept holding all the research mate-
rial together. And as a matter of fact, in the last two years before I
did retire I worked with our people down at Property Supply so we have
all of that old RLCS material that had been held together over the years
down in our files here. That is now down in the archives in Atlanta so
that geographers throughout the country who want to do research on that
early work can find it all down there and it will be readily accessible
to anybody who wanted to work on it.
DR. CRAWFORD: How extensive are those records, Mr. Gray?
MR. GRAY: Well, we covered on the old RLCS and, yes, don't
forget that we are talking about 1935 or 1936, we
covered roughly three-fourths of the Valley. We covered all of Alabama,
most of Tennessee, a part of Virginia, although we did not get up to the
Marion area. We did not cover all of North Carolina. So the major part
of the Valley is covered by this survey and [it] is a record of what the
land use was in the Valley in that 1935-1936 period. And it villi be a
valuable piece of research material some day.
DR. CRAWFORD: What sort of material was in that survey?
MR. GRAY: Well, it was based on a kind of numerical fraction
in which the numerator listed what kind of farming
there was in the area, what the special crops were, what the farmsteads
were like, and how large the fields were. The denominator was entirely
based on the physical characteristics; the slope of the land, the amount
of erosion, the amount of stoniness, and that thing that finally did us
in — the productivity. These were broad classes, one to five. All of
them had one to five and you could sit down and read this and get a pret-
ty good understanding of what was there.
DR. CRAWFORD: How did you estimate the productivity of the land?
MR. GRAY: Well, we normally looked at the crops. Did they
seem to be doing well? Or did they look like
scrawny little stalks of corn as some of that North Alabama was in those
days . The cotton might have been not more than eight to ten inches
high with a couple of cotton bolls on it before they start really get-
ting production from some of those lands. So this was an interesting
history, I think, and an interesting part of TVA's contribution to this
whole area of land-use planning.
DR. CRAWFORD: Did you by any chance have any consultation or
dealing with Mr. John McAmis about this?
MR. GRAY: Oh yes. Mr. McAmis of course, was the one who
felt that the kind of survey — broad survey — that
we were undertaking was just inappropriate. You've got to remember
though, Mr. McAmis came up through the Extension Service and his whole
background was one of a very strong belief that really the only kind
of planning that was necessary was the consultation with the people on
the farms, and that all the good thing in life came out of this sort
of thing. The idea that there could be a broad program planning at a
central administrative level — it was quite foreign to him. So his op-
position to this particular program was very understandable. Of course,
he also had access to H.A. Morgan from his oxm association at the Uni-
versity and so he was very instrumental in having this whole program
kind of put under wraps.
DR. CRAWFORD: How many people do you suppose you had working
on it and for what period of time? It seems you
have rather complete records.
MR. GRAY: Well, I would say that first of all we were broken
up into teams and there were two people to a car.
I would say that we had five cars operating in the Valley. We are talk-
ing about roughly ten staff people. We had back-up staff for draft-
ing — putting the field notes that we had into good order. All told I
would say we had about twelve people, two back-up people in the office
and then the ten people who were working in the field.
DR. CRAWFORD: Do you know how long or extensive the records of
this survey are that are stored in Atlanta? Do
you know what volume there would be approximately?
MR. GRAY: No, I don't. But all of the areas that were cov-
ered are down there. I should say that there are
some other interesting records down there. As I was digging through
those materials to try to get them in order to send them to Atlanta we
found a survey that was the basis for the Rural Land Classification and
that was what was known in those days as the cross section. Now this
was a field by field survey of land use right across the great Valley
from the Cumberland Plateau to the Smokey Mountains and it cut right
the grain of the Valley in the neighborhood of Dandridge, I think. It
was a mile-wide strip going right across the whole Valley. I should
say one thing that I neglected to mention was that the survey was made
with aerial photographs. The cross-section was made with detailed photo-
graphs and the people who were surveying that and (I was not a part of
that) actually surveyed field by field making a record of the crops that
were on them and the characteristics of the soil and the land itself.
When we got to the RLCS we used the old multiplex aerial photographs
that had been put together very rapidly and were at a scale of, 1 inch
equals 2000 feet, as I remember. By comparing patterns that were on the
aerial photographs we could pretty much indicate and show the areas that
had similar kinds of land use. So I should say too that this was a very
broad survey. We would never use units of less than 200 acres so we
were talking about trying to get a broad picture of land use — we were
not trying to get a detailed survey of the land itself.
DR. CRAWFORD: When did you stop this survey approximately?
MR. GRAY: I'd say it was stopped about 1938 or 1939. Those
were the times it was stopped. Shortly thereafter,
I would say around 1940, it was no longer used within TVA for the reason
I told you about.
DR. CRAWFORD: Let's go back a moment Mr. Gray, to your first work
at Pickwick. Once you did find the place, what was
the state of construction at the time and what accomodations did you get?
I know you had to stay over there.
MR. GRAY: Well, we found an office upstairs of a store on the
main street there in Savannah and I remember that
we lived in a private home — the Walkers'. They, as a matter of fact,
owned a lot of the land in the Pickwick area and this was a typical south-
ern home. Mrs. Walker — we were all kind of young, you know;we were in our
twenties — she had great meals for us and treated us as almost one of the
family. I remember all the years that she was living whenever I would
get down in Savannah I would always go back and see Mrs. Walker. Mr.
Walker died a few years after we left there, but Mrs. Walker held the
family together and she lived there in Savannah for many many years .
But I think the things [you see] as you drive over the Valley now,
you see the green and you see the cattle, but in 1935 this was different.
I am sure that most people have told you the same thing — the huge scars
of erosion. I still remember a few of them. And every time that I go
through those areas I still look over there to see if that erosion is
ever going to come back. I remember one area was right outside of
Kingston. On theleft bank as you come across the old bridge there was
a steep slope over there and that whole slope was absolutely a bad land
topography. Another area was between here and Dandridge and that area
was planted in locust quite early and now, as a matter of fact, is back
in cultivation again. So all over the Valley was the open farming, the
erosion, the unpainted farmsteads. Poverty was evident. The only thing
about the area was the scrub cattle over the area. You know they had
these scrub jersey bulls running wild almost. These were the ones that
were giving character to the cattle in the area. I think it is to the
real credit of the Ag people of the way that they did give help to this
area not only to improve the farm practices, but to raise the quality
of life and to improve the cattle. Now you drive over the Valley — I
guess every time I see a nice herd of Black Angus I always think back
to what it was in those days. There has been a tremendous improvement,
because there is one thing about the Valley that you must remember. It
is made up of parts of states that were really kind of orphans. North
Alabama, you know, was an orphan in so far that real political control
was in South Alabama. East Tennessee, real political control was in Mid-
dle and West Tennessee. Southwest Virginia is still an orphan politically,
Western North Carolina is a political orphan of the state. So this was
an area that hadn't had the public expenditures that some of the other
parts of the states had. North Alabama — it's hard to think about it now —
but the first time I drove across North Alabama there was only a dirt
road. It's hard to imagine that just a few years ago that's all the kind
of transportation there was across North Alabama. Now it's a blooming
DR. CRAWFORD: How did you select the taking line at Pickwick?
MR. GRAY: Well, we put this on the basis of we tried to make
estimates of where it would do the least harm to
the individuals whose land was there. We also tried to make some pre-
liminary estimates and this was also to become the basis of the future
plans for reservoir development. Where were the areas that might be
suitable for recreation or for other kinds of usage? These were kind
of primitive studies in terms of what we did in later years, but never-
theless it was a beginning to try to think through the future of the
reservoirs and how they would be related to the development of the area.
What lands ought to be required in order to carry out these plans? So
we made the recommendation. Bob Friarson was the one, of course, who
actually set the taking line. We were one of the groups making recom-
mendations to him and he had the responsibility for making the final
taking line. I'm sure you have probably interviewed Bob. He was with
the Maps and Surveys at that time.
Maybe this is another area that we could talk about, by the way,
because I think there has been an interesting evolution in what TVA did
in regard to plans for reservoir development.
DR. CRAWFORD: What changes have taken place?
MR. GRAY: As I told you, I guess I was associated all of my
career within TVA with the community and regional
planning groups x^ithin TVA. This group had always felt that not only
should you plan in advance for what kinds of uses might be appropriate
along the reservoir shoreline so that the reservoir itself could contri-
bute the most to the region, but we also felt there ought to be, once
the land was acquired, a plan for its use. This too ought to be related
back to state and local plans, for the reason that I mentioned, so that
the reservoirs could be related to the development of plans for the
development of the region.
In the early days this was kind of a new idea and it wasn't too
readily accepted within TVA, So we were merely one of the divisions
making recommendations. But then, as I recall, I would say in maybe
the late forties we had a program that came under administrative code
6-0 and what this was was a kind of coordinating process to see if from
all of the divisions we couldn't come up with a general plan for the
development of reservoirs' shorelines after we knew what land we had
acquired. I think this was the start of and the first break-through in
the terms of formal planning for the use of shorelines within Tennessee,
along the Tennessee River and along the reservoirs themselves. This
sort of program continued over the years and I, of course, was with the
Community and Regional Planning group for all these periods. And what
we were trying to do at the same time was to work with the state planning
agencies [with] whom we had very close working relationships and through
them with the community planning groups which we had encouraged. (I'd like
to talk about that a little later on.) Out of this our whole concept
was: Can we come up with a plan for the development of the reservoir
shoreline that is consistent with TVA objectives and yet is also con-
sistent with the plans of the states and of the localities? I think in
general we were fairly successful with this. But I should say one of
the real problems was there was never, in our opinion, enough planning
prior to land acquisition. We ended up taking whatever land had been
acquired and then trying to fit it into a plan, except that there were
a few key lands developed or purchased for what we then called Programmed
Purposes. The recreation staff would make certain recommendations for
community parks and thing of this sort. But there was never any real
effort to relate it to industrial development and other kinds of usage.
This kind of a program continued and our staff was largely res-
ponsible for preparing those plans over the years. But, I think, the
second major break-through came with Helton Hill Reservoir. This was
almost by accident because we were planning for Melton Hill Reservoir
and had been working with the state planning agencies and the local plan-
ning agencies on the plans for that reservoir. It just happened that Con-
gress refused to appropriate funds for Melton Hill and that the construc-
tion could not start. This meant that we had a whole extra year to put
the general land-use plan together prior to the approval of the project
and prior to any acquisition of land. As a result of that the plan that
came up was not only thoroughly coordinated within TVA but represented
the thinking of Oak Ridge, Knox County, and the state. We did have a
basic plan on which to base land acquisition, and it was the first time
that we started using the general land-use plan as a basis for both
land acquisition and for the road relocations.
Of course, you know the real test of that came later on in Tellico
when the plan really became the basis for the total land acquisition and
for the road relocation project in which we used the road relocation
monies to build a whole new regional road system in cooperation with the
state. There has been, during the period that I was with TVA, a very
broad evolution of planning of reservoir shorelines from kind of piece-
meal sort of planning to the development of general plans after the fact
and then to the development of plans for reservoirs prior to the appro-
priation and prior to construction so that these plans can be used both
for acquisition of land, road relocations and the other kinds of devel-
opment problems associated with reservoirs. Because the thing that cer-
tainly must be obvious in this day and age is you can't control the land
along the shoreline unless you have two things: 1. You have some way to
control the land use. 2. You have support from the local people. I
think our relationships in the planning areas and with the planning agen-
cies gave the kind of local support we were talking about and the acqui-
sition of the key lands was one means that we could really be assured
of the control of the use of those lands.
I think as Mr. Wagner has pointed out many times, it is very dif-
ficult for us to understand why a few landowners should recapture the
increase in value that was created by the public monies. I think that
TVA and Mr. Wagner particularly, who sponsored the policy, believed that
if the public was to make an investment in the land at least it ought
to be a way for the public to recoup part of the incremental increase
in value resulting from that public investment. So this is what has
happened on my recent lakes .
So I think, this too has been an interesting history about TVA. I'd
like to also talk about because I have also mentioned this already, our
relationship with state and local planning agencies. I want to mention
them from a couple points of view: 1. The whole general philosophy be-
hind it, [and] 2. that program that was initiated by TVA became the basis
for what was later incorporated in the Housing Act of 1954 as Section
701 of the Housing Act.
I suppose you would have to say that the whole general philosophy for
the work that we did with planning agencies went back to H.A. Morgan.
One of my TVA friends, a couple of years before I retired, gave me a
copy of a memorandum that was written by H.A. in 1933, and it was right
after the Board was organized. I do not know the exact date, but if you
are interested in it you can look in the book that is written by George
Gordon, the dissertation by George Gordon. I gave him a copy of it and
I think he included it in there. But in this memorandum H.A. was trying
to establish a policy and philosophy for working with people of the Valley.
And it was out of this philosophy that the whole idea was developed that
TVA should not try to take over all these new programs, but that we should
work with the people of the Valley and that we should work within the
framework of these institutions. And I know others have criticized this.
I'm not so sure that you accomplish all that much by knocking down what
formerly existed rather than building on the strength of those institutions
So this is exactly what we did with the local planning assistance programs.
In trying to work with the states and with localities in terms of
setting up planning organizations, TVA first of all went to the states
and tried to encourage them to establish a state planning agency. Here
in Tennessee (let's see who was the governor at that time — 1035.)
DR. CRAWFORD: That would have been, let's see, Hill McAlister.
MR. GRAY: McAlister — Governor McAlister was the one who set
up that original organization — I think it was
called the Tennessee Valley Commission. But the whole idea was that by
working with TVA and with the whole state we could come up with joint
programs. Out of this came the Tennessee State Planning legislation
in which Tennessee actually paid for the consulting services of Alfred
Betman, who was hired to come down and to work in Tennessee and to pro-
duce state planning legislation. This included planning and enabling
legislation for localities and zoning power, subdivision control and
other things. Actually, in 1935 Governor McAlister did take this as
part of his program and it was pushed through that year and this became
the basis for what became very famous throughout the United States, the
program for state planning carried out by the Tennessee State Planning
Commission for many years.
I think this is illustrative of the way we had tried to work in the
Valley. We would never go into a community unless we had checked it
out with the Tennessee State Planning Commission and they in fact wanted
to go in there and work with that community with us. We would then
assign staff people to work with us and them and we would also go to
planning commission meetings, help them to organize local planning agen-
cies throughout the Valley.
You must remember that in 1935 when this program started there were
only one or two local planning commissions in the whole valley. I re-
member there was one in Memphis, one in Knoxville — Harland-Bartholomew had
done an awful lot of work in this area — he was a private consultant.
He did the first plan for Knoxville, which was done in 1930. Then there
was a general plan for Memphis that Bartholomew did, although there had
been some other kinds of planning activitiy. Johnson City was a planned
town, John Knoland was the planner there. As a matter of fact, Earl
Draper, who was the head of the old Land Planning & Housing Division,
had worked with Knoland in Johnson City and, of course, he also laid
out Sequoyah Hills here in Knoxville in some of the early planning ef-
forts. But when you came to the small community usually there had been
no planning activity.
So it was during this whole period that we started to organize plan-
ning commissions in small towns throughout the Valley. I should say
too that one of the innovations I think of that program was while we had
some staff people that could be available for this type of work TVA
signed contracts with both Tennessee and Alabama for technical planning
and assistance to reservoir affected communities. Under these contracts
the state was to hire professional planners. They were to work in the com-
munities that were affected for good or bad by the reservoirs — help
them in their readjustment. They were to make this information on local
planning and how it was to be carried out available to communities through-
out the state. So I feel that these were responsible and very obviously
that they were for the starting of the local planning assistance pro-
grams that were so effective in the Valley states. I think it is to TVA's
credit that we didn't insist that this program be carried on only within
the TVA area, because I think that most of our people understood if these
were in fact going to be state programs they had to be statewide. They had
to be institutionalized so they were statewide. So in both Tennessee
and Alabama where most of the TVA work was there were established some very
effective local planning assistance programs.
I should say that in the Alabama program I was loaned to the state
to help them set up their planning assistance program and I worked through-
out that whole area of North Alabama helping to organize planning pro-
grams in such towns as Guntersville, and the little town of Madison (I never
will forget working in there.) Decatur, Alabama — that was a great ex-
perience because those people were really civic-minded and wanted to
build up that community. Also in the Muscle Shoals area — Florence,
Sheffield, Tuscumbia and Muscle Shoals Citv — these were all towns that
were started during those early days of TVA, beginning, I guess, around
19 38, '39 ,'40.
So this was the way the planning program was started. I should say
we also worked in Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia, but we had
some fairly difficult problems in some of these states. In Virginia for
example, the attitude was that anything that the federal government did,
and TVA represented the federal government, was essentially wrong, so
therefore they didn't want to cooperate with us. We still worked with
them on the reservoirs in that area. North Carolina had much the same
problem, but I should say here that TVA was in large measure respon-
sible for the successful establishment of the School of Planning at
North Carolina. Jack Park who interned with us before he took on the
responsibility, was in North Carolina — really alone, the only faculty
member they had for establishing that school. TVA realized that if there
was to be any kind of planning activities throughout the area there had
to be trained technicians, and it was for this reason they gave finan-
cial support to that. The way we arranged this was we arranged for the
school to employ another professor to help in the school, but he was
also working in western North Carolina during the summer and so many
days a week to assist the communities in that part of the state affected
primarily by Fontana Dam. I guess it was 1942 about that time when we
were building that reservoir. Jim Webb, who had been employed by the
university, worked in western North Carolina while he taught at the
university. So I feel that TVA made a major contribution to the estab-
lishment of the Graduate School of Planning at North Carolina.
We did more than that — we became a source for internships for their
students. We helped on their theses for them and we always had close
ties with North Carolina. As a matter of fact, the man who suceeded me,
Jim Gober here in TVA, is a North Carolina graduate as are a couple of
others on the regional planning staff from North Carolina. So there
always have been close ties with North Carolina.
In Kentucky there was only such a small part of the Tennessee Valley
within Kentucky that we had difficulty really establishing a strong base
for working relationships with the state of Kentucky. We did however,
plan with them on Grand Rivers and several other developmental problems
along that short stretch of Kentucky reservoir that is in the state.
Georgia and Mississippi — I can't say we ever did establish good
working relationships with those states. I think the basis was they
never did have what I would consider a sound planning program or a
local planning assistance program of any caliber. While we worked with
them when we could there was never a sound basis for working with them.
I think this was unfortunate particularly in Mississippi. As you know
the power service area in Mississippi covers about a third of the state
at least. And this was a very rapidly developing part of the state, and
one that needed heavy infusion of some kind of planning assistance.
DR. CRAWFORD: Do you say that TVA was responsible mainly for the
development of planning agencies in these states?
MR. GRAY: Yes, I would say that particularly in Tennessee
and Alabama. Now in the other states as the years
went by we started working with the National Resources Planning Board to
encourage [ them] . They helped also to set up the planning agencies in
the other Valley states. In Tennessee and Alabama where most of the
TVA activities were — this is largely the result of the TVA effort.
Let me make one of my observations. I guess it must have been
around 1951, 1952, or 1953, that Carl Feiss was working with what was
then the old Housing and Home Financing Agency. He was a planner and he
too was interested in this experience that we had had in Tennessee by
providing funds for the local planning assistance to the state planning
agency. So Carl started touring this section of the country — Alabama and
particularly Tennessee. I guess it would have to be 195 3, or '52 — one
of those years. I do remember the meeting was held in Johnson City.
Maybe Haro] d Miller has recorded this if you will talk with him. I
remember I was at that meeting, Harold was there, Carl Feiss was there.
The purpose of the meeting was to give Carl an insight into some of the
policies that TVA had followed as well as the policies that the state
planning commission here in Tennessee had followed in providing tech-
nical planning assistance to localities. Now what Carl was interested
in doing was to make this a national program. He actually did succeed
in getting this into the legislation and so that as I mentioned earlier
in the Housing Act of 1954. There was this section "701" which in fact
provided for planning assistance to localities and it provided funds
that should go to the state agencies from the federal government and
they in turn would provide either through the funds going directly to
consultants or they would provide help directly to a local community.
I think this was a really important program because you must remember
that particularly here in the South and really in the nation as a whole
we were finally realizing that we were an urban nation and we had to
to act differently than when we were an agricultural nation. The urban
problems were upon us and this was becoming the habitat for most of the
people living in the country and it had to be a different approach than
the haphazard kind of urban development that had happened heretofore.
Let me make one other observation while I am on this tool while it
relates to some of the broad policy issues. In working with communities
TVA tended to give preference to the small community. While we did help
in the larger cities this was more in the nature of general consultations,
The real technical assistance went to the smaller communities. I should
say that this not only applied to technical planning assistance but to
assistance in industrial development and in nearly all kinds of techni-
DR. CRAWFORD: Why did TVA make that distinction? Did they feel
the larger communities could take care of them-
MR. GRAY: Yes. I don't think we really understood what we
were really doing and the significance of what
we were doing in those early days. But by the late fifies it became
very evident that unless we found ways to stabilize the development in
localities — smaller localities — that many of them were going to become
ghost towns or were going to decline and become stagnant communities.
This is when I think we started emphasizing industrial development, more
particularly industrial development in smaller communities. TVA tried
to use its staff as a means of equalizing some of the technical skills
that were in the big cities and not available in the small cities and the
work that Mike Foster did, I think, there is a good illustration of that
of helping the smaller cities have access to the review and study tech-
niques that would normally be available only to large cities. But I
think to TVA's credit we helped these small communities at least solve
some of their physical problems through the planning programs and I
am certain we helped them solve some of their economic problems by en-
couraging industrial development within these communities, helping the
communities to provide intra-structure for them, helping them to organ-
ize the industrial districts. And as you know the year that I retired,
1973, if I remember the figures correctly, that in that particular year
55% of the total new industrial jobs in the Valley came in the smaller
communities. While everybody bemoans a smaller community unless you
can make it economically a viable place the small community can't survive
While it is very nice to be nostalgic about those communities — small
community — the real fact is in this present day and age unless you make
it also economically feasible it cannot survive. I think TVA in large
measure was one of the key factors in helping the small communities of
this Valley be economically viable and able to adjust to the changing
THIS IS THE ORAL HISTORY RESEARCH OFFICE OF MEMPHIS STATE UNIVERSITY.
THIS PROJECT IS THE "ORAL HISTORY OF THE TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY."
THE DATE IS DECEMBER 20, 1974. THE PLACE IS KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE. THE
INTERVIEW IS WITH MR. A.J. GRAY FORMERLY WITH TVA. THE INTERVIEW IS
BY DR. CHARLES W. CRAWFORD, THE DIRECTOR OF THE ORAL HISTORY RESEARCH
OFFICE OF MEMPHIS STATE UNIVERSITY. TRANSCRIBED BY BETTY WILLIAMS.
INTERVIEW # 2.
DR. CRAWFORD: Mr. Gray, let's us continue with the material
that we had started in the first interview.
MR. GRAY: Well, let's talk a little bit about work in
new towns. Let me talk a little bit about Norris.
In my opinion, Norris is a very crucial part of the history of TVA.
Until a few years ago when I started doing a little research on Nor-
ris I didn't realize that the idea for the town of Norris probably
came from FDR himself. Certainly he had been thinking of, how do you
adjust rural America to what he saw as most certainly the growing of
industrialization in American cities. How do you help people with the
transition? And he had some ideas that there ought to be some rural com-
munities established that could kind of become training centers for
people who are coming off the farms. They could work on the farms part-
time, but they could also learn new trades and new skills. As you go
back into the record, and I found some TVA memos about this by the way,
it became very clear that even before the board was appointed, A.E.
Morgan, and the President Franklin Roosevelt, had talks about maybe
trying to build a town that would do these sorts of things. These memos
also would make it kind of clear that FDR didn't want another back
to the farm sort of movement because he knew this would not be success-
ful and so he wanted a small experiment some place to get it started
and on the basis of this maybe develop it into a national program.
So the original concept of Norris was that it would be an agricul-
tural community in which the people who ere working on the dam and TVA
only had a five-hour work period in order to spread the employment.
The theory was that men with their families would come and live in Nor-
ris, would work on the dam and in various kinds of skills — learning poul-
try farming, other kinds of agricultural and skilled development — wood
working and things of this sort. The idea developed to use Norris as
this experiment and so that the Corps of Engineers made the original
estimate on Norris and they included a million and five or a million
three for a temporary temporary camp there for the workers. So FDR had
created the subsistence farmsteads, I believe it was, and the way this
was supposed to be arranged was that TVA would use the million three
that they had for the construction village and subsistence farms would put
in the rest of the money necessary to make it a permanent village.
A.E. was the real supporter of the town of Norris. Very early in
the game as a matter of fact — early in 1933, right after Earl Draper
came, his first assignment was to find a site for the town. And it was
to be the kind of town that I mentioned to you. H.A. [Morgan] went out
and looked at the area for agricultural land — if it was good agricul-
tural land and all of this sort of thing. About this time Lilienthal
came on the scene, of course. It became very evident at that early stage
that the personalities of these two were in conflict and I found this one
memo that came from Lilienthal to A.E. in which he challenged the whole
idea of Norris — very sharply worded memorandum to A.E. A. E. responded
in an equally sharply worded memo in which he defended the town and its
purposes. As a matter of fact, if it hadn't been for A.E. I don't think
that town ever would have been built. He defended it, he talked about
it, he got support where ever he could, and I am sure it was over Lil-
ienthal 's objections. Because Lilienthal, regardless of what he writes
in a book, was kind of a narrow guy. He was interested in power oper-
ations and all the rest were frills, in my opinion. (Of course, every-
body has their own opinion, you know.) A.E. was the one who saw TVA in
the very broadest of aspects. He saw TVA as a broad regional planning
and TVA might have been a different agency if he had had his way in cer-
tain things. It would have been a much broader agency and wouldn't have
been limited the way it has been to its kind of operations over all.
To make a long story short, apparently there was change in the pol-
icies to the subsistence homesteads group so they withdrew and this meant
that TVA had to rejustify this new community if they were going to build
it. About this time they had hired Tracy B. Augur, who was a Cornell
graduate and was one of that kind of select group of people who ere in
the Regional Planning Association of America (I think that's the name of
it.) This is a group of people made up of Clarence Stein, Henry Wright,
all of the real early planners in this country, the architect planner
background who are interested in regional planning, interested in new
town. And it was through this experience that Tracy knew Stein's and
Wright's work in Radburn. He knew of the new town work in England so
Tracy was brought down to design the new town. Well, he came on the
scene about the time that the subsistence farmstead group pulled out
of the project. So the justification had to be rebuilt. It became a
demonstration in new town development from the old idea of education,
agriculture shilted to the idea of new town in pretty much the tradi-
tional English new town theory.
It was the first new town in United State that had a green belt
around it and it preceeded the Green Belt towns built by the Resettle-
ment Administration, as a matter of fact. And in the history of new
town development in this country, Norris actually stands between Rad-
burn, New Jersey, which was designed by Stein and Wright and the Re-
settlement Administration Green Belt towns which were built as Green
Dale, Green Hills, and Green Belt, Maryland. So here Tracy started
building into this kind of free flowing new town that as a demonstration
of new town practice in the United States.
I think some interesting things happened because in 1935, I found
a memorandum — unbelievably it was about a 150 pages long memorandum.
(If you can imagine a memorandum 150 pages long written by log as a
matter of fact.) What they were doing was saying in essense, if you
are going to build this town, the only way it can really become a suc-
cessful experiment is that it be built as a regular ongoing Tennessee
community. They advocated very strongly that we get special legislation
to permit its incorporation as a Tennessee community. Weill think the
planners, (and I certainly would have been one of those if I had been
working on it at that time which I wasn't 'cause I was out in the field
as you know, I was working on the RLCS,) the planners felt to have a
successful new town experiment you had to have absolute control of the
land, that you would never sell the land. As a matter of fact, the
land would always remain as communal property, that the houses would
be kind of ground leases on this. So TVA, as a matter of policy, de-
cided not to sell the town. But there came the problem of how do you
get democratic control in a company-owned town? And so as construction
declined on the dam this meant that other white collar workers would
have to move in, and some people working in Knoxville who actually lived
out there, and finally Forrestry moved out there, and it became a little
employment base for the town.
TVA set up a citizens group in Norris. This was to be a group
that was to represent citizens' interest in management of the town. Al-
most from the very beginning there was conflict between the two, and this
becomes obvious. The residents are interested in low rents and high
services and the same way everybody is — no one wants to pay very many
taxes to get them. So I suppose the people living in Norris were just
ordinarily reacting in the way that everybody would react. But this
forced a conflict between TVA and the citizens of the town. This went
on for years and years and years. While TVA was trying to bend over
backwards to solve the problem, and I think the citizens of the town
were also trying to do the same, these differences of interest really
couldn't be resolved.
The war came and TVA was forced by Congress to get rid of the op-
eration of the school, which was a real innovation in community schools
and which was one of the reasons why most of the people liked to live there
because it was a school of very high quality. So, then finally after the
war, the whole issue was reopened again and TVA was just really put right
in the middle because they couldn't get money for maintaining the town.
There were demands on the city by the citizens for expanded services
and finally Congress in 1947 said that TVA when they came back for their
next budget they had to have a plan if or either making the town self-
sufficient or dispose of the town. This is what TVA had to do, finally
decided to dispose of the town, and they did that in 1948.
This raised some interesting policy questions, by the way, while
some of the current staff people I know like to say that there is only
one policy in TVA, as you know, within any staff organization there are
a lot of conflicting opinions and points of view that have to be recon-
ciled one way or the other. When Norris was sold there were really
two views within TVA. One view, which was represented pretty much by
the property management people, was that when TVA sold Norris we had no
further interest in it — absolutely no further interest — that we were
done with it and we would treat it just like any other community. Some
of the rest of us had a little different view. We held to the view
that no matter what TVA did they couldn't divorce themselves from Morris.
They built it, it was their brain child and what happened in Norris would
be reflected on TVA as a detriment or as a benefit to TVA. So there
were some of us that held to the view that our relationships with Nor-
ris should be carried on with the view that I have just expressed in mind.
You know, as must happen, there is a compromise down the line, so
for example, we did say in our brochure advertising the town for sale
that it had a protective watershed. The lawyers maintained that we had
to provide permanent protection to that watershed so TVA made the water-
shed available to the community. We didn't, however, and I think this
was a great and tragic mistake, turn over the Green Belt to the munici-
pality. The municipality had to buy all of the utilities, and it didn't
have the money itself and even though, I remember, we made a very attrac-
tive price for the whole Green Belt to the city, they just felt they
couldn't afford it. I was out there a few weeks ago giving a talk and
I think the present administration regrets that they never did buy that
land because they would like to have it as a buffer with all the develop-
ments that are occurring out there at the present time. But anyway
I think the point is that Norris has grown. Norris has had the strong
planning tradition and it has maintained the kind of character over these
years and, in my opinion, is one of the most successful of the small plan-
ned towns in the United States. It has got an operating budget, a lot
of citizen participation, and has got a good environment for living.
From this point of view, I think in spite of the problems that TVA had,
it was a worthy experiment.
This brings us of course, to this whole issue of what I think is
a major problem in TVA and that is the place of TVA in the whole federal
system. Just as an observer over the years it seems to me to have plagued
us all of these years. I say this because the whole justification for
TVA, it seems to me, is that of a regional planning and development agen-
cy. I know a lot of my TVA friends would cut out the word planning,
but you at least have to know your mission before you can develop that
mission. So I would say it has to be a regional planning and a develop-
ment agency. I do not believe it can do this unless it is recognized
at the national level as performing these functions. It cannot merely
carry on programs of local planning assistance and call this a regional
planning program. I have maintained this.
With most of the regional planning that is going on in this coun-
try everybody thinks that by carrying or a program of planning assis-
tance that you automatically are doing regional planning. I don't
think this is true. I think the regional planning that's done in the
Tennessee Valley is done in terms of the regional wide facilities and
programs which are developed at the regional scale. So I think that
TVA's problem is that it has not been able to do the variety of things
necessary to respond to the requirements of the changing region. I
don't think that this is necessarily TVA's fault as the fact that Con-
gress and the big departments have just never recognized TVA as a re-
gional development agency. So when we start moving in the direction
of trying to find new ways to solve regional problems, particualarly in
the urban field, where I was involved you run right up against: "Well,
if you are going to do this, what is HUD supposed to be doing". So we
have opposition to many things.
A good illustration of this is Timberlake. Here I am not talking
about the controversy of Tellico, which is another matter which I could
talk at length about. But Tellico is a concept that is entirely dif-
ferent one, because the whole Tellico concept initially was built upon
the idea: How do you organize for urban growth so that you avoid some
of the sprawl that you have in the metropolitan areas, and how do you
organize urban growth so that you can respond to the industrial and
economic and social needs of the day? Contrary to what some of the
environmnetal people are now saying, Timberlake was never conceived
as an elitest community with golf courses and this sort of thing. Al-
though there would be some houses there for high income people, the
whole concept was (it was a position that our whole section took all
along) that unless you could develop housing for low income people
in that community and provide a level of services for people with
modest incomes, TVA really shouldn't be in this program.
Nov/ the whole concept here was: How does a public agency and pri-
vate enterprise work together to build a new town? Sooner or later
the nation is going to have to face some of these urban policy questions
and urban development issues which they haven't seen fit to do as yet.
One of these, of course, is the trying to develop new towns on a suf-
ficient scale and with some kind of system so that we don't continue
to build the Los Angeles and the New York State cities which are pro-
bably ungovernable and probably have reached such a size that they are
virtually impossible to service.
So one of the ideas in back of Timberlake was that here by TVA
buying the land and doing some of the preliminary studies and then
by joining with a master developer we could provide some of the front-
end costs and front-end expenses that make it almost impossible for a
private entrepreneur to build an effective new town. Of course, the
environmentalist in their zeal forget that there are people living
on this earth sometimes and that we must find solutions to our urban
problems if we are going to find solutions to the preservation of the
natural landscape because it is all (I of course, am one that believes
we live in an urban world) and our solutions must be in the form of
those kinds of programs which are representative of an urban world.
It is not 1850 anymore; we don't cut our hay with a scythe. All I
am saying is, it is a pretty highly technical world and if the pro-
blems aren't going to be solved in that way they probably won't be
solved at all.
So the problem that TVA faces is this one of continuing to establish
itself as a regional agency and one who is responsible for experimentation
in regional developmental programs that help to solve these kinds of
programs and then pass on to other kinds of activities. Unless it is
able to do this, I think it will be under increasing attack because,
as I said before, merely assistance to localities on a series of mis-
cellaneous programs is not in my opinion a regional program.
I'd like to talk about one other problem that I experienced being
in middle management for so many years, and particularly later years.
I must admit I am subject to some frustrations probably in my own in-
adequacy, because I was getting older and I couldn't adjust as well as
I could in the earlier days. TVA has always credited itself with de-
centralized administration. It has given them all kinds of power and
control to the individual divisions.
Here I am talking from the point of view of my observation (which
may or may not be a valid one). I think it is important to understand
that when the initial program of decentralized administration developed,
the TVA mission was clear-cut, and everybody knew and understood what it
was. We had to develop the river. Ue had to relate the river to the
region. And I think the need for strong decentralized planning with
broad policy guidelines set, at least as the mission became clear was
really not too important because we were already in the act and every-
body understood it. But after 1955, I did think TVA changed signifi-
cantly because we had built the major components of the river system and
the question that TVA faced was: what is our mission in the region? I
do not think TVA has solved that basic policy question and I would con-
tend that the decentralized administration is one of the reasons it has
never been able to do this because it has never been able to establish
strong centralized planning to provide the kind of guidelines and to
provide the kind of mission guidance that I think it absolutely neces-
sary in this kind of situation. I don't think you build this kind of
a program from the ground up. Here I know theie will be others in TVA
that will disagree with this.
I do not think the great autonomy of the departments is appropriate
under present situations as it was under the pre-1955 situation. I sus-
pect that most new people who are now coming in do not understand this —
what I am talking about — the early conditions which made the decentralized
administration possible. And yet it has now become a kind of idealogy.
Really it may not be appropriate to the times or may not be as suited
to the present day needs. I know the real dangers in this because you
can have too greatly centralized administration and therefore frustrate
the initiative at the operating level. But for one who has been at Mid-
dle Management and I 've talked to a lot TVA Middle Management people
I am sure they feel the same way at this point in time. They really
do not feel that they have the kind of policy guidance and they are
guessing all the time as to what the policy is rather than in fact
knowing whast those policies are. So I think this is a real]y major
problem TVA faces and maybe some <?f the new people coming into TVA
will be able to do this. I don't think the kind of planning that is
going one now is the kind that is going to solve this particular pro-
Well so much of that — let me talk about one thing. We are kind of
running out of time here. Let me talk about one other program that be-
came a national program that I was heavily involved in. That is the
TVA program of flood damage prevention. I think it is an interesting
program and I think it is interesting because TVA was the first one to
make a long-standing idea work.
I guess TVA's concern for this problem really began — oh, I don't
know when it was — I'd say probably in the middle fifties. At that time
Water Control Planning came out with a report in which it listed maybe
100-150 cities in the Valley and it tried to analyze the flood problems
they had in these small cities. As you would go down through this list
you would see "no action taken because project cannot be justified."
So some in TVA said, "What do we do? Wait around till a development
occurred in the area subject to floods so that we can then justify some
flood control work or do we say there is such a thing as flood damage
prevention as had been advocated by many people — flood plain zoning^
the use of police power to control developments in the area?"
So our little group at least started an idea that why don't we
try to build within TVA a program of assistance for flood damage pre-
vention. I have to say here that since I am not an engineer I don't
have all that good rapport with the engineers because they felt that
I wasn't qualified to deal with flood data, and they are probably right,
but I did know something about land use and land use control. It
was about this time that, I think it was Mr. Wagner, who talked Jim
Goddard into heading up a program of flood damage prevention here in
TVA. This started an association between Jim and myself that really
developed the whole idea and concept of the TVA program which ultimately
became the national program. Jim had worked in Hydraulic Data and Water
Control Planning and so they knew and respected Him. He had access to
all the materials and he knew what the data contained. I guess I brought
to it an understanding of zoning, local planning, land-use control. And
so out of this came the idea that why not work with the state planning
agencies and through them with local agencies, starting first with an
appraisal of data on flood conditions in various communities, and try
to build this into the planning program.
So we started off with him pulling together materials tha't would
give the historic record of floods on the streams within the area. Then
we came on to the question of (he~re of -course is where the engineers were
actually right about my using the data because I didn't understand one
point very well) that even though there is a fairly long record, there
is no assurance that record represents even what could be approaching
a maximum porbable flood. So Jim, who was familiar with this, was able
to do the data problem much better than I would have been able to.
Out of this Jim worked out the concept of regional flood. Now
regional flood was something lower than the maximum probable flood,
but was a flood that was based on the heaviest rains that had occurred
within a fifty mile radius of a particular point. And it was kind of
an intermediate sort of flood elevation, but it wasn't the maximum probable
that from land use control point of view became an impossible elevation
to get peopel to try to adhere and not to build into. This would mean,
you know, that you don't build in an area where you are likely to have a
flood every thousand years. I admit, you know, that you could have that
flood next year, but at least at the upper limits there you were getting
a little bit beyond the test of reasonableness that you were going to
have to sustain under zoning. We started using this regional elevation
and in some cases we dropped this down in later years particularly to
the 100 year flood.
So from this Jim started working with the communities and I started
working with him. We gave talks all over the Valley. We gave national
talks. We went to a lot of the planning conferences, and got a lot of
interest stirred up in the whole program. Ultimately, I suggest TVA pro-
vide data to I'd say nearly every community of any size and get them to
at least consider in one way or another how the flood problem did affect
their local plans. I think there was a major break-through in this whole
effort in the Valley. I think it was a substantial and important addition
in terms of a regional program to the whole flood program of the Valley.
As you know, eventually this was adopted by the Corps and is now a con-
tinuing nation-wide program. So I think here again where we have been
able to demonstrate regional programs, it goes back to the point I was
making a moment ago: If we (TVA) can do those things that demonstrate
benefits and can be experimental in terms of the region as a regional
development agency then I think its role, if it is recognized as that,
can be sustained. Well that is about it. I don't know if you want to
talk about some other ideas, I'd be glad to do this.
DR. CRAWFORD: I can ask many questions, Mr. Gray. Let me limit
to just a few for I know your time is perhaps gone.
Do you think that TVA has ever been close to finding another mission after
developing the river?
MR. GRAY: No, I do not. I do not. I think in large measure
the reason it hasn't because of the image in Con-
gress particularly that TVA has as a water and a power agency. I'm not
saying that TVA views itself on the inside as that. I'm saying — I am
talking about exterior forces. So when you go for these other kinds of
missions you are going head-on into some of the activities of the bigger
departments. Let me give you one other reason why TVA is having such a
difficult problem, in my opinion again.
In the early days you remember the federal budget did not concern
itself with the grants and aids to the states. Therefore the early TVA
construction program was in fact a kind of federal fiscal impact on this
region, and it did have significant impacts. But with the coming of the
beg grant programs, how was TVA to compete and in what form. Was it to
compete when you had the HUD programs moving into the area, when you had
the big highway programs moving in, all kinds of health programs moving
into the field, and all the grant and aid programs? So unless TVA could
have found some kind of a mission that would be in this frame of com-
petition, I think it is going to have a very difficult time establishing
DR. CRAWFORD: TVA's original mission, it seems to me, was sold to
the Congress and the people quite easily because it
dealt with a severe and obvious problem, however, the nation would uphold
anyone and since it could be solved and after that TVA could turn, if
another mission did not appear, into a maintenance agency I suppose.
MR. GRAY: Going back to this point, during the time that
Gant was General Manager, I don't know if you have
run into this or not, but the question of whether or not TVA should con-
tinue was actually raised administratively within TVA because we were
faced with this very problem that I told about: That TVA may should be
disbanded, maybe TVA should be considered as a temporary sort of thing as
a temporary agency once it got the region on its feet. Maybe it ought
to back off.
Well, TVA has always been it seems to me, outside
of the main structure of American government.
Because of being rather unique. It is essentially
a regional organization, it does not have regional
counterparts, anywhere else and you have national programs that cut across
And TVA is somewhere in between.
That's right. If I can just philosophize a little
right here, the problem that TVA has is not much
different from the problem that most of the regional agencies have. Let's
take on a smaller scale. Let's take the sub-state districts in Tennessee.
Now the same thing that I am telling you about Tennessee applies equally
to those: What is their role? How do they relate to local government?
How do they relate to state government? These issues have not been settled
in terms of those sub-districts. I know the governor created them be-
cause it was the fashionable thine to do. I don't know if the governor recoj
nized it, but what they were doing was giving the big federal agencies
a big client base without going to the states. That was essentailly
what HUD was after and that was essentailly what ARC was after and that
was what EDA was after. They didn't want to go through the states. They
wanted a client base out in the communities and they used these regions
for that client base. TVA tried to do this with their watersheds, as you
know. But this does not solve the mission. ARC is going around and get-
ting the political support for the ARC program, but that doesn't define
the mission. You can skip political support but as I say it doesn't clar-
tfy or define that mission. I think what TVA ought to have is a central
planning staff that could do that mission-defining and try to find out
and a little more specifically what the mission is other than being
DR. CRAWFORD: It seems to me a great deal of TVA activity since
somewhere in the thirties has been an attempt to
assign different things to do without a clear focus.
MR. GRAY: You see prior to '55 there was a clear focus. He
were developing the river. The focus was: How do
we relate in all of its aspects.
DR. CRAWFORD: What date did you give?
MR. GRAY: Nineteen hundred fifty-five. How do we relate in
all of its aspects — the river to the development of
the rest of the region. Now this was a broad problem I don't think we
ever did address. I never did get anybody really interested in it: How do
you relate navigation, for example, to highways, to railroads, and to air
as a total transportation system for the Valley. Now a lot of people
felt that this was kind of a foolhardy thing to do because the whole
transportation system was set by the rate structure established at the
national level. I'm not sure that I agreed with this. As a regional
agency it seemed to me that we could have established our role as trying
to guide a total transportation system rather than merely being concerned
with navigation. This would be my point of view. And you know strangely
enough I have a feeling after going back and reading a little more of
the history that if A.E. hadn't been so righteous in his point of view
that he had God on his side and everybody else didn't, that A.E. might
have moved TVA more in that direction. Certainly Lilienthal wasn't
DR. CRAWFORD: Into developing the resources of a region?
MR. GRAY: Yes. As a whole in viewing that as a total
concept rather than a piecemeal concept of merely
trying to find things to do.
DR. CRAWFORD: Or as relating specifically to power production.
MR. GRAY: Yes, that is right. I think A.E. would have done
this. Certianly if you go back and look at some
of the early memos and early talks that he gave, you find more of this
represented in his view of things than you did in either the H.A. Morgan
people, which is essentially the old extension service, or the legal
production view that Lilienthal had, although he adopted the grassroots
thing, I think, as a gimmick for him. I don't think he was all that
DR. CRAWFORD: Well perhaps it was an operational decision.
MR. GRAY: Yes. These are problems that, by the way, have
you ever talked Lawrence Durisch?
DR. CRAWFORD: Yes, I interviewed him down at the University of
Tennessee about two years ago.
MR. GRAY: Yes. I hope that he talked. Lawrence in my opin-
ion is the one that you ought to really have been
talking to about the role of TVA in this whole governmental federal
structure because Lawrence, if anybody in all the TVA history, has a
sense of this, I think Lawrence has it. He is a political scientist, as
you know, and a very, very thoughtful person on this whole philosophic
problem. And I think if anybody has a feel for this Lawrence was with
TVA right from the beginning and I think he felt very keenly about this
particular aspect of the problem and I hope that was in his review.
DR. CRAWFORD: We had very good interviews and we may need to talk
MR. GRAY: Yes, I think Lawrence is the one that could give
you that. Well, I enjoyed the interview.
DR. CRAWFORD: Thank you, sir.